So my daughter can talk now. LOL!
I gave a speech development update when Caroline was 22 months old. Suddenly her speech was just taking off. Now, she's 24 months, and she talks all day long. She names objects, she says sentences, and she gets her point across very well! Her grandparents were just here for a visit last week, and she's already saying new words this week that they are surprised to hear! She is trying to say her name, now, and sentences like "Read please, Mama" are second nature to her!
With all the talking comes new expectations and new things to learn. She's eager to please, so she knows to say please and thank you. It's adorable to hear her say these words and it makes us so proud!
She doesn't yet know or understand the concept of waiting for an answer, and only asking something once. She repeats herself over and over and over again hoping she'll get the desired action to happen. This is something we are now working on. As with anything, it is going to take a lot of practice (for everyone), but I think it is important to set expectations early so she can learn now.
Expectations we are setting:
- Say please and thank you- Saying please and thank you is an expectation we set long before she could talk. We've always prompted her to say these things, as well as shown her with our own example. We still prompt her if needed, but she is now saying these things on her own.
- Ask one time: This is a new expectation that Caroline is learning. She's just started to repeat herself over and over, now that she can express herself. She also knows how to count to 3! So, I know she'll be able to catch on to only asking one time. I'm simply explaining to her that she can ask one time, and wait for an answer. Once I've answered, the expectation is that she is not to keep asking to get it to happen sooner or to get a different answer. I remind her that I haven't forgotten about her question, and remind her of my answer. If I answered yes, and she's having to wait a moment, I explain that she needs to wait until ___ happens. If I answered no, I explain why I've answered no. I also tell her that continuing to ask is not going to change my answer. We are not enforcing any consequences at this stage. She doesn't understand the concept yet, so we are helping her learn it and guiding her through this process. Eventually, we'll attach consequences- once we know that she understands, but for now it is simple reminders.
- Wait patiently: Another new concept for her is waiting patiently when she wants to talk. She's actually great at waiting when she knows that is the expectation (waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting her turn at gymnastics, etc.). She doesn't know that, if Mama is on the phone, however, that she needs to wait to talk to me. This is a totally new application for her. Since I know she understands what it means to wait, I am simply asking her to wait. There is not much to teach here other than the new application.
What I need to do, however, is anticipate when I'm going to have to ask her to wait and remind her ahead of time (as the phone rings, instead of once I'm already on the phone trying to listen/talk). This is as new for me as it is for her. The phone example has actually happened twice (once with me and once with Daddy). We are rarely on the phone, so we will have to find opportunities to teach this. Another key opportunity is when Mama and Daddy are talking to each other or someone else. And really, as I'm typing this...it's so much more simple- If I ask you to wait, that means you need to listen and wait. She may not understand, that part of waiting is not talking in this particular instance. Her application of waiting is standing still and waiting her turn. So, we need to broaden the understanding of what it means to wait, and include specific talking scenarios, or we need to simply ask her to wait and state "no talking while I'm talking", or "no talking while I'm on the phone, please", etc.
- Sometimes the answer is no: Caroline hears no a lot. Now that she can talk, however, she seems to think that if she keeps asking, she'll eventually get what she wants. I'm probably guilty at times of giving in- although I try not to. Part of that is that I'm reassessing why I said no, and have realized that it wasn't worth the "battle". If that's the case, I try to explain this to her to include her in my thought process. I try not to do this too often. Instead, I try to learn from my mistake and just not say no the next time if it isn't truly necessary. Other times, however, no is no. I simply tell her that asking again is not going to change my answer. I involve her in trying to come up with a different activity or solution.
- No yelling: Only yell if you are in trouble or hurt. This is one of those things we've been saying to her for over a year now, so she knows this. Occasionally she gets carried away with her decibel level, but it's rare. We simply remind her of when it is ok to yell and mention that this is not one of those times.
As with all new skills, there are new expectations that need to be set. Along with those expectations it is important to enforce consequences, once the concept is understood. This is all so new to Caroline, that we are not yet doing much in the form of consequences. Once she understands the concepts well, we'll have to get creative and figure out natural consequences that will make sense to her. In the mean time, it's off to practice, practice, practice!